I don’t blame you for struggling, that’s a very tough question. If it helps at all, these are generally designed to assess your reasoning and your ability to present on difficult topics, rather than expecting you to give a flawless answer.
There’s only so much you can cover in questions like these, especially in 10 minutes. So a good structure is very important. They’ve indicated what themes they want you to discuss: political, economic and social, so that’s your structure. Three minutes per theme. I’d probably only do one point per theme to stay within the time.
As the scenario has you as the managing partner; it’s testing your understanding of the firm, its market position and strategy. So the global challenges/strategies you choose should depend on the firm in question.
A few quick thoughts:
I might choose the US/EU introducing legislation to stop Chinese buyers acquiring western companies (for fear of national security). If I were managing partner of Freshfields for example, this would be a big challenge – they’re M&A heavyweights and also see a fair amount of Chinese outbound work in Germany. So this could affect their income.
I’d invest in research, so lawyers can understand the regulatory position and are in a position to advise clients. I’d publish insights to update Chinese clients and I’d liaise with senior partners in the key financial centres to get their input – potentially with the aim of establishing a group to work on this.
Let’s say I take Brexit for this one. My concern would be that many financial institutions will relocate (or reallocate more resources) to the EU. On top of the typical Brexit R&D investments, I’d want to ensure I had regulatory and international trade practices, and sufficient investment in key financial centres in the EU, for example a strong Germany practice, to cater to the needs of clients. I’d also consider having competition lawyers register in Ireland so they retain the right to represent EU clients in court. If I didn’t invest enough in measures like these it’s likely I’d lose clients to competitors who can service their needs.
I could use employees here. There’s been a lot of talk about millennials recently and what firms can do to adapt the needs to a changing workforce. That could range from an investment into mentoring schemes to agile working to greater work life balance. It’s expensive when law firms lose people and investing in employees often means productive employees, so being ahead of these needs is very important.
Generally speaking, there are many topics you can choose when you get asked questions like this. I tend to shy away from Brexit/Trump topics or choose one very small issue within them because otherwise they’re too broad.
Finally, I’d also reiterate that you shouldn’t worry about finding this hard, it’s a very hard one!